It’s become an fall ritual as surely as the leaves changing color on trees. Apple’s refresh of the iPod line at their fall music event. I’ve spent some time using the latest models. Here’s what i think. Some wonder whether a refresh is needed. To me that’s a non question. It’s like asking car companies why they introduce new models every few years. This years lineup makes a lot of sense, features are segmented more clearly and there’s some new innovation in style And form.
iPod shuffle. This years shuffle takes design cues from the last two generations. The control buttons from two generations ago and the voice over from lasted generation. While the new form factor is evocative of the older one, it’s actually somewhat smaller. With a price of $49 for 2gb this is the value model. While the price is cheap, there’s nothing cheap about the device. The colors this year are a bit more pastel than we’ve seen in the past and the build quality is excellent with no visible seams. The shuffle makes for a nice entry level device with basic features.
iPod nano. This years nano takes a few steps forward and a half step back. What’s missing? There’s no camera for video recording, no games, no video playback. What you do get is a small multi-touch screen with iOS like icons (although it’s not an iOS device). It’s small enough to be wearable, clip included and paired with a wristband it’s even a watch replacement. (there’s a cool watch app built in). The touch features are a little different than we’ve seen before but take only a moment to learn. While I normally don’t like to see devices lose features in the case of the nano I’ll make an exception. My old nano has some games as well as videos on it ms I’ve never used either. Likewise, the camera on last years model has rarely been used. By keeping the focus on music features first and foremost and driving the design forward Apple likely has another hit on it’s hands.
iPod Touch. The iPod touch adds the most features and it’s now the flagship of the line. Think all the great stuff Apple added to iPhone 4 minus the phone. It’s almost all here. Retina display, FaceTime, A4 processor and gyro. Plus it comes in capacities up tp 64gb. The secondary camera takes 720p video but only sub megapixel images. Good enough for facebook as snapshots not photographs. As expected you’ve got the full catalog of iOS apps. Games in particular are excellent. With WiFi and Skype you can actually use the iPod touch as a great IP phone. In short, this is Apple’s best iPod. Ever.
It’s been nine years since Apple introduced iPod and a lot has changed over the years. While many consumers have supplanted a media player with a smartphone, for many users iPod os the way to go. With a lineup from $49 to $399 Apple has the most diverse product line that scales well. (for those with large media collections, Apple’s kept the iPod classic around with 120gb and last years price). The new models represent a decade of learning, technology advances and design expertise. For those looking for the gold standard in portable media or want to join on the iPhone app revolution without the phone, Apple has a device that just might be right for you.